The last Warren Zevon sighting was in 1996, when the piano fighter resurfaced in boxed-set form (which really doesn't count, does it?) with I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. Now he's on tour--with no new CD to support, just a lifetime of electrostatic little numbers (including "Werewolves of London," "Excitable Boy," and "Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School") that, decades later, can still knock the patterns off your mismatched socks. He'll perform at the Odeon, 1295 Old River Road in the Flats, tonight at 8. Tickets are $17; call 216-241-5555.
As a test pilot for NASA, astronaut Alan Bean spent a total of 69 days in space. Not too shabby, considering young John Glenn was only up there four and a half hours. But the only return trip Bean's taking is on canvas: Since retiring from NASA in 1981, he's pursued a painting career, even shredding up his old Apollo 12 spacesuit in the name of art. (The silver patches, still covered in moondust, are ground down and mixed in the paint.) Bean, 67, gives a slide presentation on his lunar travels, Apollo: An Eyewitness Account, tonight at 7:30 at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 1 Wade Oval. Tickets are $6; call 216-231-4600. The lecture is preceded by an hour-long showing of NASA videos at 6:30 p.m.; Bean will also sign his new book of paintings (which has the same title as the lecture) on Saturday, January 30 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Gallery One in Mentor, 7003 Center Street (800-621-1141).
The end of apartheid meant a more personal direction for Athol Fugard, the white activist and writer whose small, delicate, and politically minded plays about the everyday struggles of blacks in South Africa drew international attention in the 1960s. Fugard's 1995 work Valley Song, narrated by a white landowner (based on Fugard himself) who arrives in town, tells the story of a black farmer who's distressed by the encroachment of outsiders--tourists and developers--on his way of life. Meanwhile, his granddaughter has her sights set on the big city, despite his fears for her safety. The play stipulates that a single actor play both male characters; veteran Cleveland actor Ron Newell takes on the dual roles for Ensemble Theatre's production, which runs through February 14. Tonight's performance is at 8 p.m. at The Civic, 3130 Mayfield Road in Cleveland Heights. Tickets are $16; call 216-321-2930.
Kids who eat dirt can get some career counseling today at Hey, Let's Pretend We're Archaeologists, a morning of underground activities geared toward children ages five to ten. Park Ranger Pamela Machuga--with the help of a puppet named Ranger Rich--will talk about what an archaeologist actually does for a living, then lead the group in games and crafts (making prehistoric Play-Doh artifacts). It all takes place from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Happy Days Visitor Center in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area (which has 270 archaeological excavation sites of its own), State Route 303 one mile west of State Route 8. Admission is $2; call 800-257-9477 for more information.
As far as roots music is concerned, Tav Falco's no Johnny-Cash-come-lately. He's just been in the swamp for the past three decades, playing along the broken line from Memphis to New Orleans with Sun Records rockabilly artist Charlie Feathers, bluesman R.L. Burnside, and power-pop hero Alex Chilton. Falco's own music is a hot, bubbling mix of Mississippi country blues, rockabilly, and soul, with a splash of tango. He roars into town with his band Panther Burns for a 10 p.m. show at Pat's in the Flats, West Third Street and Literary Road, 216-621-8044. Cover is $7.
If the only guests at your Super Bowl party are cracked ceilings and a leaky faucet, maybe a pre-game visit to the Home Improvement Show is in order. About three hundred exhibitors will be there, including tool makers, rec-room remodelers, and bankers ready to refinance your molars for a backyard gazebo. They'll give product demonstrations and one-on-one advice, both practical (keeping those air ducts clean) and fluffy ("Pillows Pillows Pillows" by the Sewing Network). The sawdust flies today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the I-X Center, 6200 Riverside Drive in Brook Park. Tickets are $8 adults, $4 children ages six through twelve; call 216-265-7000.
Scum-sucking galactic warrior Oderus Urungus, one of the elaborately costumed members of the theatrical rock band GWAR, grovels off the stage and into the ring for Guts, Gore & GWAR. He'll exchange grunts with the Great Samu, a former World Wrestling Federation tag-team champion, in a strictly nonmusical hardcore wrestling match. Auxiliary bandmate Techno Destructo, itinerant professional wrestler Maxx Payne, and local guys Psycho Mike and Brett Powers also give it the old heave-ho. The bell clangs at 3 p.m. at the Agora Theatre, 5000 Euclid Avenue, 216-881-2221. Tickets are $17, $15 in advance by calling 216-241-5555.
Any idiot in fingerless gloves can regurgitate Black Sabbath covers, but headbangers Queens of the Stone Age actually make the old geezers sound fresh. And they do it by playing not "Fairies Wear Boots" with a hip-hop backbeat, but their own, irony-laden anthems (with a good beat that you can't dance to). The Queens, composed of former members of California stoner rock band Kyuss (actually, they sound a lot like Kyuss), perform with Karma to Burn, Red Giant, and Biblical Proof of UFOs tonight at the Euclid Tavern, 11629 Euclid Avenue, 216-229-7788. Showtime is 9:30 p.m.; tickets are $9.
The filmy, feather-boa-trimmed underside of post-war Hollywood surfaces in the mixed-media pinups of actress and visual artist Simone Gad, who counts the Frederick's of Hollywood catalog and Fluxus artist Al Hansen among her major influences. Gad--whose works juxtapose pornographic cutouts with abstract architectural sketches--was born in Belgium to Holocaust survivors, but her family soon struck out for Hollywood, where she grew up. There, her frantic mom tried to make her into a child star, with scant success. As a young adult, she says, "I'd go out for these sexy ingenue roles, but I was always a little too eccentric, or too ethnic looking, or too heavy." Gad's pinups are on exhibit in Body Beautiful, a solo show that runs through February 20 at the Cleveland State University Art Gallery. The gallery, 2307 Chester Avenue, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays; call 216-687-2103. No children will be admitted to the show without an accompanying adult.
These days, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Polish President Lech Walesa is speaking under the chandeliers of four-star hotels. Now retired from politics (with a prematurely white head of hair to show for it), the 57-year-old Solidarity hero will pay a visit to Cleveland today; he's actually a last-minute replacement for Gennady A. Zyuganov, the leader of the Communist Party of Russia. Walesa will speak in the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel, Public Square downtown, at 7 p.m. today. Tickets to the dinner and lecture are $50, $35 for members of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs. For more information, call the Council at 216-781-3730.